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2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup

‘Mexico deserved to win’: USWNT concedes flaws after historic loss

Twila Kilgore: ‘I think we had a good game plan and simply they just executed there’s better than ours’

Mexico celebrates a goal vs USWNT
Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

The United States women’s national team’s 2-0 loss to Mexico on Monday marked only the second time in 43 meetings that El Tri managed a victory over its rival to the north. It was a thorough performance from Mexico, who dominated the U.S. from start to finish to prevail as the surprise winners of Group A at the Concacaf W Gold Cup.

The Americans are still through to the quarterfinals, but the loss was a reminder of just how much work is left to be done after the low point that was the 2023 World Cup. No observer, neutral or partisan, could argue that Mexico was not the vastly superior team on Monday. El Tri boss Pedro Lopez got the tactics right and his players executed with a relentless hunger that the U.S. could not answer.

“At the end of the day, we were outbattled and it’s unacceptable,” U.S. midfielder Sam Coffey told CBS Sports after the game. “There’s no excuse that we can make for ourselves. We now have to stay together as a group and learn from it and move on. But at the end of the day, Mexico deserved to win and we have to take that to heart, and I know that this group will.”

Lizbeth Ovalle struck an iconic chip to open the scoring in the 38th minute. The goal came off a direct play up the spine of the U.S. defense, with one big ball over the top following a Mexico goal kick. U.S. interim coach Twila Kilgore lamented the team’s lapses on the set play.

“I think [a] game is about moments,” Kilgore said. “And if we look at those moments where if you take the goal for example, it’s a microcosm for the game because a team from a defensive goal kick for us which is something that we generally pride ourselves on and we didn’t win the first ball, didn’t win the second ball, and then didn’t execute.”

The last and only previous time the U.S. lost to Mexico was at World Cup qualifying in November 2010, when Morgan was in her first year of representing the senior national team. The loss forced the U.S. into a global playoff with Italy, where the top-ranked Americans prevailed over two legs — with Morgan scoring a crucial goal in the first leg in Italy — to become the 16th and final team to qualify for the 2011 World Cup.

“Concacaf is not what it was 14 years ago when we had our last loss to Mexico,” Morgan said.

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Several problems that plagued the U.S. at the 2023 World Cup reappeared on Monday, from individual players’ inability to solve pressure to a lack of answers off the bench. Kilgore made a pair of changes at halftime, swapping Alex Morgan in for Sophia Smith at the No. 9 position and bringing on Emily Sonnett in place of Lynn Williams as part of a system tweak. The changes did little to shift the momentum, which Kilgore conceded in reference to a slow first 20 minutes of the second half.

“We just didn’t play nearly our best,” Morgan said afterward.

A second-half stoppage time golazo from Mayra Pelayo — who grew up in Southern California, not far from the site of Monday’s game, and played college soccer at Florida and got a passing look in the U.S. youth system — punctuated the victory for Mexico.

Mexico set the tempo from the opening minutes, pressing the U.S. defense into mistakes high up the field and winning second balls in midfield. Kilgore said they expected Mexico “jumping out from their shape” based on their scouting, but the U.S. had no answer.

“I think there was a good game plan,” Kilgore said. “I think they had a great — a good — game plan. I think we had a good game plan and simply they just executed there’s better than ours. And part of that does have to do with intensity that generally can be measured by things like tempo with the ball, but also defensive things like winning first tackles and winning second balls.”

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